At Lumi, we love helping small business owners gain access to the capital they need for their business to grow. One such small business owner is Christine, the Founder of unique, in-flight skincare company, Long Haul Spa. Today, she shares her inspiring start-up story, as well as how Lumi has assisted her with her journey.
Please tell us about Long Haul Spa. When did you begin it and what inspired you to do so?
Lumi has supported “KCPL” (Keeling Consulting Pty Ltd) the consulting company that I founded and have been running in Australia for the past 6 years. Up until recently, I focused on technology consulting for North American software companies entering the Asia Pacific market.
In December, I launched Long Haul Spa – a departure from technology into the consumer goods skincare / travel space.
Long Haul Spa was designed specifically for people who find themselves on long haul flights and dealing with the effects of the cabin atmosphere, lack of humidity and time zone changes.
I know this space well. To give you some context, I have spent the past 6 years as a technology executive working with North American companies in Australia, resulting in over 70 long haul flights in 60 months (and I began my work career as cabin crew for a Canadian charter airline). So, I have firsthand knowledge of the pain and challenges of long haul flights. Those soul destroying, complexion wrecking, brain fuzzing necessities to get you where you need or want to be. And like most travellers, when I got off of these flights, I always had to show up somewhere with my ‘A’ game. Fresh, unwrinkled, and ready to go. Bloody hard.
Over the course of these flights I started perfecting the art of making my long haul flights suck a little less. Putting together in-flight kits to not only assist in keeping my skin hydrated, but to give me a mental / emotional boost. Something to look forward to, like a pampering event that I normally don’t have time for. Something to keep me engaged.
It was through this experience that I realised there were in fact no curated kits available that were designed specifically for use in your seat on a flight. Most skin care lines have travel sizes or travel kits to use while you are on the road in the privacy of your hotel bathroom. But no one had a kit specifically curated to use on the plane to make your flight a little less hellish. Believe me – I looked. I looked in airport shops, at duty free cosmetics counters, online, in high end cosmetics shops, department stores, bespoke shops. And I saw women doing the same thing I did – scrambling in airport shops to put their own kits together.
So, I found a formulator in New Zealand and we created the products that would provide the most benefit at 35,000 ft over 5-14 hours. We beta tested from August to October with 60 women from around the world flying internationally, recruited through the Facebook group ‘Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine’ (if you don’t belong, you should!). We iterated the product and packaging based on their feedback and we launched in December – Long Haul Spa 2.0 🙂
My goal is to make long haul flights more comfortable, more enjoyable and get everyone to the other side feeling a bit more like the rock star that they are.
Please describe your products. What makes them unique?
All of the products are crafted in New Zealand from both locally and internationally sourced sustainable, organic ingredients. They are vegan, cruelty-free and paraben free. Good for you, good for the planet. We have also partnered with One Tree Planted to help offset the carbon emissions.
The Long Haul Spa kit contains 8 x 15 ml products – all well sized for carrying on the aircraft. And because the rules change frequently and vary from airport to airport we have included a 1L clear plastic bag in your kit, just in case security likes to see toiletries presented in such a way. We have also included sanitising wipes. It is super-critical that once you get on board and are settled in your seat you wipe down all of the hard surfaces – including your tray table, screen, controls, armrests and seat belt buckle. (Tip: the dirtiest spot in an aircraft cabin is the headrest of the aisle seat…..everyone touches it as they are walking up the aisle!) And always clean your hands before you touch your face.
The humidity (or lack of it ) on board is one of the biggest issues, with the standard on-board humidity level at 1.8% – 15%. To put that in perspective, the Sahara Desert has a standard humidity level of 25%. Not good. We humans are most comfortable in 30-60% humidity.
The 8 products included will take you through an in-flight spa experience twice, so coming home will be just as luxurious as your outbound adventure. And the 100% cotton bag that comes with the kit will hang easily from a carry on, the back of the seat in front of you, or over a shoulder. It also makes a great shoe or laundry bag for the journey.
The retail price for the kit is $129 AUD. It’s currently available online and at the Auckland International Airport at the 1Above Kiosk. We have had significant interest from corporate event and travel planners and are working with a group in Singapore to customise the packaging for them as well.
TARMAC, the men’s line, launches at the beginning of Q2. We have also been asked to create a kit for hospital stays, a “Tradie Kit”, and larger sizes of our products for regular home use from women who prefer it to their current skin care products.
What do you love the most about being a small business owner and what do you find most challenging?
I love working on a product / project that I believe in 110%…. That I know has a place in the market. That I know is crafted from the best of ingredients and with integrity. And that I know people LOVE! I also love having the ability to iterate quickly…. to get feedback and be able to take immediate action. For example, we have tweaked formulations, changed packaging and added / dropped products based on customer feedback. The ability to make a decision and move quickly is something that I will ensure we don’t lose as we expand. The ability to move quickly is also dependent on accessible financial resources.
The other side of the coin is that being a small business owner can be a bit of a confronting and lonely place. And of course, financing a startup or small business can be a real challenge, with traditional banks being both risk averse and unimaginative.
Currently a team of one, I need to actively seek sounding boards and advice from my circle of influence, as well as complete strangers. While you are backing yourself, you also have to have your own back. It can be a bit of a challenge. Joining online groups of like-minded individuals certainly helps, and I have found the suppliers that I work with extremely generous with their time and knowledge.
As you know, Lumi loves helping small business owners access the capital they need to grow and succeed. How do you believe your business loan from Lumi has helped your venture?
I have bootstrapped Long Haul Spa through the set up, registrations, trademarks, branding, formulation iterations, packaging iterations, MVP, beta testing and then re-iterating of all. However, once we had the formulations and packaging to the point that we were comfortable to launch, we were faced with the dreaded MoQ – minimum order quantity. And when you are looking at having to purchase thousands of units before initial cash flow, life gets interesting. Lumi gave Long Haul Spa the cash injection that we needed for our initial inventory.
Lumi was incredibly easy to deal with. Fast, efficient, friendly. There are real people on the other side of the transaction – specifically Yanir and Alex – who are champions for small businesses and founders. I would absolutely recommend Lumi.
Follow Christine’s journey on Long Haul Spa’s website, Facebook, and Instagram. Want to find out how an unsecured business loan from Lumi can help your business? Visit our website or call 1300 00 LUMI today.
Has your small business received a Lumi loan? If you’re a customer and want to have your venture featured on our blog, please contact us today.